Embellishing the world

November 4, 2009

Last week in our MUSIC HISTORY, CULTURE, AND CREATIVITY class, we talked about musical embellishments. Robert Winter spoke at length about melodic embellishments in classical music–a rich resource to be sure. As A.J. Racy has been demonstrating Arab melodies for the past few weeks, virtually every phrase is filled with embellishments, and ones that are quite different than western embellishments. We closed the class with yours truly pointing out vocal embellishments in selected pop/folk music from America: The Carter Family singing “Wildwood Flower,” Doug Kershaw playing and singing “DIggy Liggy Lo,” kd lang singing Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” the riveting performance by Jimi Hendrix of “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock––LOTS to talk about there, and closing with Beyonce’s video of “SIngle Ladies”––”gentlemen, stop paying so much attention to the video and more on the melody!” Yeah, right.

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